Feminist Theatre Mommy Blogging

by Esther Emery

I couldn’t help but wonder today, as Nick and I were cheering for Milo as he put small scraps of wood from the rapidly disappearing Sugar Syndrome set into the big plastic trash can at the edge of the stage…

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Are there any other theatre companies at which an 18 month old gets to help with strike? And I don’t mean sitting in the house with mommy. I mean he actually helped.

Are there any other toddler moms who think it is good training to teach their toddlers to safely navigate a theatre full of big people breaking up masonite and hauling platforms?  

I know there are. 

Milo doesn’t think any of it is terribly odd. His day was a lot like any other day. The greatest trauma of the afternoon was over a stolen cookie, which he knew perfectly well was out of bounds. His biggest complaint was about the “noy” (that’s”noise”), from a binding screw gun, which is exactly what he says when I bring out the vacuum cleaner. And the sweetest moments of his day were of communion and communication with his loving parents and guardians and grown-up friends.

At MOXIE we’re more aware of our limitations than we used to be. We didn’t have kids at load in for this show. We learned on Bleeding Kansas that having all four of the under-five set running around is nothing less than annoying. And I personally have had to deal with the realization that sometimes my kid just isn’t up for it. Maybe it’s teething. Maybe it’s stranger anxiety or a burst of clingyness. In cases like that, both of us have to compromise. But we keep figuring out a way to get it done.

For the last few days I’ve been searching the blogosphere for MOXIE’s peers. We don’t have a list of links in the sidebar right now. I believe that this is not only bad blog form, but also a failure to participate fully in the culture of blogging. But I’m having a hard time knowing who to link. It isn’t a shortage of deserving blogs. There are hundreds of blogs that interest one or another of us in important ways. There are the political blogs, the theatre blogs, the feminist blogs, and the mommy blogs. And there are many blogs that combine one or another of those interests. Lots of mommy blogs talk about feminism. Lots of theatre blogs dabble in politics. What we can’t find is the conversation about theatre and parenting. 

Delicia and I were just chatting today about the phenomenon of invisible moms in the theatre. How is it that some people still think it is impossible for theatre people to have kids when so many of us have done it? The greatest obstacle for parents in the theatre is the bizarre myth that we don’t exist. If we don’t exist, then there never need to be provisions made for us. There will never need to be daycare at the theatre. There will never need to be a business model that supports artists who don’t want to travel. There will never need to be rehearsal schedules that allow us to be home in time for dinner. 

I participate in a couple of blog-universes. There are regular commenters who share passionate interest in certain issues, who may or may not ever meet each other face to face. We use the blogosphere to make our individual voices louder, by grouping them together. We learn that there are others who feel the same way, and we combine our forces towards the possibility of change. 

Are there other people in cyberspace who want to talk about parenthood in the theatre? Or theatre via parenting?  If you know of any, send them our way. We’ll link them. We’ll write about them. We’ll try to make the sea of invisible theatre artist parents into something more like a family.

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